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FactCheck: Is the Govt correct to claim that 400 people are buying their first home every week?

Last week, a Government statement included a suggestion from the Taoiseach that 400 people in Ireland are buying their first home every week.

This article and verdict has been updated to reflect a fresh statement from the Taoiseach. 

ONE OF THE key pillars of the Government’s strategy to address the housing crisis is to enable those who have never previously owned a home to get on the property ladder.

In recent years, various policies, grants and schemes have been unveiled alongside claims by the Government about how much is being done to help first-time buyers.

Last week, a Government statement included a suggestion from the Taoiseach that 400 people in Ireland are buying their first home every week.

With the Government seemingly keen to emphasise its progress in helping first-time buyers, The Journal decided to examine that claim in further detail.

The Claim

Leo Varadkar claimed that around 400 people a week in Ireland are buying their first home.

The claim was contained in a press release issued on 25 April, which listed achievements of the Government’s housing plan.

In the release, Varadkar was quoted as saying that “about 400 people are buying their first home every week, which is the highest [level] since the Celtic Tiger”.

The Evidence

Firstly, The Journal asked the Government Press Office at the Department of An Taoiseach for more information about where the figure came from.

No response was received ahead of publication to our inquiries about the source of the figure. 

We also sought clarity from both the Department of Housing and The Housing Agency, both of whom directed to queries to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which compiles figures on sales of housing via data collected by Revenue through Stamp Duty returns.

These figures are contained in the Residential Property Price Index, a CSO database which measures changes in the prices of homes in Ireland over time.

The latest update to the index came on 14 April, when it provided figures on house sales in the year up to February 2023, as well as during that month.

A specific section of the April update to the index (under the heading ‘additional indicators’) states that “there were 1,166 first-time buyer purchases in February 2023″.

When dividing that 1,166 figure by four (for each week in February), that is equivalent to an average of 292 homes per week that month – or 27% fewer homes than the Taoiseach claimed are being bought by first-time buyers every week.

The CSO’s previous update in March, which contained figures for January 2023, stated that there were 1,243 first-time buyer purchases that month – slightly higher than the February figure but still an average of just 280 homes for every seven days of January.

One has to go back to data for December 2022, when 1,789 homes were sold-to first-time buyers – about 404 homes for every seven days of that month - to reach the figure contained in the claim attributed to the Taoiseach.

November 2022 also showed high sales to first-time buyers around the 400-per-week mark, with 1,675 homes sold that month– an average of about 391 for every seven days of that month.

But the CSO’s data clearly shows that those average seven-day figures have fallen since.

The CSO’s annual figures, which cover 12-month periods and are provided as part of the same dataset on the Residential Property Price Index, also show this trend.

A release from February, which outlines figures from January to December 2022, shows that 16,612 homes were sold to first-time buyers last year.

Dividing that figure by 52 to obtain a weekly average figure shows that fewer than 319 homes were sold to first-time buyers per week in 2022 – again, much lower than the 400 figure that the Taoiseach is quoted as claiming is currently the norm.

The most recent CSO figures from April likewise show that first-time buyers purchased 16,686 homes between March 2022 and February 2023, an average weekly figure of 321 sales to first-time buyers.

There remains a small caveat to the latest figures, which cover January and February of this year: the CSO said that the Residential Property Price Index is published on a provisional basis for three months, and may be updated if further transactions are filed.

It is theoretically possible that figures will be updated to reflect the fact that first-time buyers did buy 400 homes per week in each of those months – or indeed in March and April, which could be evident from future CSO releases for those months. 

It should also be noted that there is no data to show how many people are involved in the sale of a home – there could be two or more joint purchasers.


Following the publication of this article, the Taoiseach supplied The Journal with more detail about his statement. 

His office said his figures came from the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland report for 2022 which showed first-time buyer drawdowns were over 400 per week average in the final quarter of 2022. 

The quarter one 2023 report also shows similarly strong data with a weekly average of 426 drawdowns of mortgages by first-time buyers during the three months. 


As a result of this update, The Journal Fact Check has changed the verdict on this Fact Check. In a Government press release on 25 April, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was quoted as claiming that around 400 people a week are buying their first home in Ireland.

Although CSO figures show that during February, the latest month for which that data is available, around 292 homes per week, on average, were sold to first-time buyers, BPFI figures on which the Taoiseach based his claim show drawdown figures of over 400 per week. 

As a result, we rate the claim: TRUE. As per our verdict guide, this means the claim is accurate, and is not missing any significant details or context.

The Journal’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here.